Dear Michael,

The Great Emancipator’s point man, Frederick Douglass, is quoted in your April 24 blog as well as in your latest trek “Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters.”  But the spellbinding orator’s own Emancipation Proclamation, “What the Black Man Wants,” is given not even an honorable mention.  A telling paragraph:

“In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us.  What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.  The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…I have had but one answer from the beginning.  Do nothing with us!  Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.  Do nothing with us!  If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall!…And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also.”

Thus has the early ensign of black education dismissed your chattering class’s hustle and bustle over a race.  Last semester (Wespeak, 24 Feb., to be exact), I dubbed you a hack indoctrinator.  Of course I was kidding (the very idea!), but you could dispel all doubt by taking the stand and placing your hand on the NY Times and swearing to come clean regarding the fact that the stem-winder’s bell-ringing paragraph – seemingly laundered but smelling like a smoking gun – was found among your unmentionables.

You’d rather have me talk about Why Liberal Education Matters?  In front of all these people?  So be it.  Going beyond the extra mile, “Beyond the University” is symptomatic of a common affliction: turgiditis (often referred to as writer’s bloat).  But who am I to gainsay your vocal choir (the Mediacrities), not to mention your fellow Educationists, peer reviewing, who gave your never-arriving, ever-coming attraction a rave?

Of course they’re beyond the pale.  Within the pale, a student has peeled the tinsel off your star.  Cassie Garvin ’14 (online May 6 Wespeak):

“The Wesleyan campus should be a space in which everyone’s opinions are heard, valued, and respected.  My experiences over the past few weeks have reinforced that this is not the case. A variety of controversial conversations have been taking place on campus for the last several weeks, including those regarding sexual assault, Greek life, and divestment.  The atmosphere surrounding these conversations has become increasingly divisive and hostile.  Wesleyan prides itself on diversity – this includes people who have a variety of backgrounds as well as experiences and opinions.  While Wesleyan tends to consider itself progressive, students are increasingly unwelcoming to people whose views oppose those of the mainstream community….

“I have never felt so uncomfortable on this campus as I do right now….That I will have to share what should be a joyous and momentous occasion with people who are so disrespectful and make campus such an uncomfortable space for me is deeply upsetting.”

All’s fair in love and Liberal Education.  Cassandra prophesies:

“If this atmosphere of condemnation and disrespect continues, it will discourage the expression of opposing viewpoints….Ultimately, it may make Wesleyan such an uncomfortable space for people with differing or unpopular opinions that these individuals will stop coming here.  This loss of diverse perspectives will have a detrimental impact on our institution as a whole….”

Cassandra’s prophecy echoes Yale Professor David Gelernter’s “America Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled our Culture”:

“There was a cultural elite, an establishment, before and after the cultural revolution.  Before, it was basically conservative, as the old-time WASP elite…had always been; after, it was left-liberal, as the intelligentsia had always been….WASPS were replaced at the helm of American culture by PORGIs – post-religious, globalist intellectuals.  The PORGIs are followed in turn by the PORGI Airheads, or intellectualizers, who have passed through the schools and colleges and come out seeing the world just as they are supposed to.  For the new establishment, they are freshly minted money in the bank.  One day this nation will belong to the Airheads, who will carry out PORGI theories as faithfully and thoughtfully as a bucket carries water.”

Michael, at breakneck speed your army of Airheads is driving your Agenda.  It’s fully loaded, except for… “Look, Ma, no brakes!”  The Junkman Cometh.  And, your pumped-up Airheads notwithstanding, YOU’RE the Man in the driver’s seat.  “My legacy-padding…I mean, my legacy-building…all for nought!”

Not if you ask yourself a softball question: “The Impeachable Offense, what would HE do?”  Then, just before you worm out of the wreckage, you won’t forget to wipe your fingerprints off the wheel.

Martin Benjamin is a member of the class of 1957. 

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more with the Cassie Garvin quote. The point of diversity isn’t to take all the different colors of the cultural rainbow and mash them together into a forced and pre-defined version of what the majority deems acceptable. It is to foster constructive respect and discourse among people with differing views, no matter the views or background. Alas, the school drops further in college rankings because it cannot teach what exactly is meant by respecting minority viewpoints. Want to be in an all male social group? Too bad. African American studies? Only as we design and deem fit. Have an opinion? If it does not compute you are vilified and outcast by the so-called intelligentsia. Don’t even bother applying for admission if you’ve ever used oil, deboned a defenseless fish, bought something from a large conpany, or can’t meet a predefined social or ethnic stereotype based on targets, weights, and cookie-cutter hypotheses. I cannot think of anything more ironically stupefying than the university missing such a basic point and debasing active discussion of different opinions and viewpoints. This is clearly no longer diversity university.

    • Worried Alumn

      I agree with the sentiment completely. Roth is definitely the arbiter who creates this atmosphere but he would not be able to implement it so effectively without the willingness of the naive student body to continuously push this agenda and condemn anything outside of their narrow perspective. The student body needs to change if any of these issues are going to be addressed. Roth is very set in his ways and has his plan for Wesleyan laid out, unfortunately many of us wont like his vision but we cannot repel it on our own. The student body needs to realize that this is a problem if anything is going to happen, yet for a lot of them their heads are so firmly lodged in their asses that this is moment of introspection is an unrealistic expectation I’m afraid.